The mission of the Local Science Engagement Network (LSEN) is to mobilize scientists and engineers as Advocates through local and state-based networks across the U.S. The objective is for Advocates to engage with their communities, elevating the visibility of and trust in science while building and satisfying the demand for scientific evidence that addresses needs, solves problems, and informs local and state decision-making.
LSEN is focused on four key goals:
- Empowering local leaders, known as LSEN Liaisons, by recruiting, training, and providing ongoing support to cultivate local, state-based or regional networks to facilitate meaningful interactions between scientists, engineers and local leaders.
- Enlisting and training diverse cohorts of scientists and engineers as local, state and regional science "LSEN Advocates." Sign up to learn more about local LSEN networks.
- Supporting Liaisons and Advocates in fostering relationships with civic, community, business, and policy leaders, as well as other stakeholders, providing scientific information and insights.
- Building demand for scientific evidence as an essential tool in public decision-making and ensuring that science is in the room where decisions are made.
LSEN Liaisons and Advocates will have access to training and tools to help as they engage with local leaders in their communities and will share ideas and best practices with other participants through local, state and national peer networks. Any scientist or engineer can get involved.
Participate in LSEN
The 2023 class of Liaisons is building local communities of scientists and engineers in the areas listed below. Read on to learn about these networks, as well as the National LSEN Community:
Stay tuned as we will continue to add LSEN Communities in the Future!
Led by LSEN Liaison Kate Dickerson, the Maine Local Science Engagement Network (ME LSEN) is focused on building a network of scientists and engineers who will engage with the public concerning science relevant to Maine communities, including coastal communities from Down East to Eastport and those in the North Maine Woods. ME LSEN will connect scientists and engineers to the public and civic leaders to discuss how policies and programs can benefit from science information and analysis. ME LSEN will also reach audiences interested in the sciences through public events like the Maine Science Festival.
Kate is the Executive Director of the Maine Discovery Museum (MDM). MDM is critical in helping Mainers learn about science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine. Prior to heading up MDM, Kate was the Founder and Director of the Maine Science Festival (MSF), the first and only science festival held north of Cambridge, MA. Kate is particularly interested in the intersection of science and culture, and exploring how both can be used to strengthen Maine communities.
Western North Carolina
Douglas Rao, Ph.D., is the Liaison leading the charge in forming a network of scientists and engineers in Western North Carolina and the surrounding Appalachian region. The Western North Carolina Local Science Engagement Network (NC LSEN) is committed to building connections between the STEMM community and local, state and regional policy practitioners who are working to mitigate climate change and prepare communities for the anticipated impacts from our changing climate.
Douglas is a research scientist with North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies at North Carolina State University focusing on leveraging diverse environmental data to monitor global and regional surface temperature changes and their impact on ecosystems and society. His recent research uses data science on historically inconsistent climate observation networks as a way to better understand how historical data can improve future climate projections.
The Local Science Engagement Network in Puerto Rico (PR LSEN), led by Natasha DeLeón-Rodríguez, Ph.D, is empowering scientists and engineers to engage more closely with their communities by fostering meaningful connections through civic engagement. Connecting scientists and community leaders is at the heart of this initiative, as well as identifying and addressing the pressing needs of local communities.
Natasha is an Assistant Professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus, and Principal Investigator of the Microbial Ecology Lab, which she founded in the Spring of 2021. Her research examines how microorganisms in the atmosphere, can influence the formation of cloud structures. She teaches courses in microbiology at the undergraduate and graduate levels and is committed to training individuals from underrepresented groups in microbial ecology.
The Local Science Engagement Network in Utah (UT LSEN) is fostering meaningful engagement between scientists, engineers and community leaders to discuss pressing local problems. These include the implications of climate change, like worsening regional air quality, water scarcity, and the health of the Great Salt Lake. UT LSEN will approach these issues by recruiting science advocates through local and state networks, monitoring opportunities to inform policy deliberations, compiling nonpartisan scientific research, delivering communications and advocacy trainings, and supporting informed dialogue about climate solutions. Faith Bowman is the local LSEN Liaison leading this effort.
Faith is a doctoral candidate in the Summers-Holland Lab in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Utah. Faith’s research focuses on the transcription factor FOXN3 and its role in heart failure and diabetes. As a proud Indigenous scholar from the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation in Wisconsin, Faith is committed to increasing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging by serving as a bridge between Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities and the scientific research community.
The West Virginia Local Science Engagement Network (WV LSEN) seeks to increase the quality of life for West Virginians by fostering collaborations and connections between scientists, engineers, and their communities. The WV LSEN creates bridges between STEMM professionals and local leaders, which is key to identifying and solving community concerns. Brooke Eastman, Ph.D., is the LSEN Liaison championing the effort to establish a robust STEMM network in West Virginia.
Brooke is a postdoctoral fellow in the West Virginia Davis Division of Forestry studying the economic and ecological tradeoffs of managing forests for carbon sequestration. Brooke serves as a Bridge Initiative postdoctoral fellow, working on science policy research and analysis, managing communications and outreach, and overseeing many graduate student projects.
Even if your area doesn't have its own LSEN community yet, you can still join a national community of scientists and engineers who are committed to civic engagement, gain valuable training and resources, and get involved in peer networks that support common interests. Join our online forum, LSEN Community, to chat with other LSEN Advocates and find out how you can advance science-based decision-making in your area.
To help us create programs and opportunities that serve our Advocates’ diverse interests, members of the LSEN will be asked to share your personal interest in joining to help shape future activities. Your interest can be as simple as “meeting other scientists and engineers in the region” or it can be “understanding how to support local communities in responding to climate change.”